Tag Archives: Coachman

Digweed – origin of the surname

Researching the Digweed side of my family has been much helped by Jenny who had already done so much before I even got started. She has also been a wonderful source of family photographs, something which adds so much to the stories of our ancestors.

What I hadn’t realised, until I started to look at my Digweed ancestors, is that the surname isn’t a Yorkshire surname. According to the Oxford Dictionary of Family Names, Digweed, and its variant Digwood, is a locative surname. Their presumption is that it comes from Thickwood in Colerne, Wiltshire. At some point -weed was substituted for -wood.

The dictionary also provides some information about early bearers of the surname, the earliest of which was Thomas de Thikwode, found in Colerne, Wiltshire in the 1332 Subsidy Rolls. So far, I have traced the Digweed line back to probably my 8th great grandfather William Digweed, possibly born about 1600 in Thatcham, Berkshire; a place about 43 miles from Thickwood. Interestingly the dictionary mentions a record for Guilelmi Digweed 1683 in Kingsclere, Hampshire and two records in Thatcham: Thomas Digweed 1691 and Ann Digwood 1764, which could be relevant to my research.

Unfortunately, the only available on-line parish records for Thatcham are transcriptions with the earliest baptism an unnamed Diggwid dated 16 March 1627, earliest marriage John Digweed/Digwood to Mary Norcutt on 30 November 1612 and earliest burial of John Diggwid on 16 August 1629. When I looked at a small selection of the Thatcham parish records, I found the following additional surname variants: Diggweed, Diggwidd and Dugwidd. A trip to consult the originals at the County Record Office is now on my list.

My Digweed ancestors continued to live near the parish of Thatcham, probably until the middle of the 18th century, when they next appear in the parish records for Hampstead Norris in Berkshire. William (1739-1823), my 4th great grandfather, married his wife Sarah Shackler (1739-1796) on 10 March 1765 in St Mary the Virgin, Hampstead Norris (see following photograph).

St Mary the Virgin, Hampstead Norris

William and Sarah’s 6th son, John (1791-1855), my 3rd great grandfather, was baptised on 29 May 1791 in St Mary’s Church, Hampstead Norris. He married Rachel Hilliear (1793-1851) on 26 August 1811 in St Michael and All Angels Church, Inkpen. They had at least eight children which included seven sons and one daughter. The family initially lived in Inkpen and had moved to Ham by 1817 when their second son was born. John was recorded as a farm labourer living in the village of Ham in both the 1841 and 1851 censuses. It was largely an agricultural area as described in Lewis’ 1848 topographical directory of England:

Lewis’ 1848 Topographical Directory of England – Ham

Rachel and John remained in Ham until their deaths in 1851 and 1855 respectively. The following OS map dated 1877 shows the relative locations of Ham and Inkpen and the arrow indicates that Hungerford was about 4 miles north of Ham.

Extract from OS Map Berkshire XLI dated 1877

John and Rachel’s youngest son was my 2nd great grandfather Thomas (1836-1910). He was baptised on 1 May 1836 in Ham parish church and, at the age of 14, was recorded as an agricultural labourer in the 1851 census in Ham.  Thomas married Mary Ann Tuttle (1837-1900) on 1 May 1959 in St Mary’s Church, Reading. The family were living in Sherfield upon Loddon, Hampshire by the time my great grandfather Francis (1873-1959) was born.

Francis was only recorded with his parents in the 1881 census. By 1891 he was a boarder in a household in Hayes, Middlesex, where he was described as a “groom domestic servant”. At some point he moved to Yorkshire where he married my great grandmother Violet Kate Richardson (1878-1971) on 16 October 1900 in St Helen’s Church, Stillingfleet. By 1901 they were living at West Marton near Skipton where Francis was working as a “coachman domestic servant”.

It is likely that the family had moved to Escrick, near York, by 1905. In 1911 Francis, Violet and six children where living at Escrick Park with Francis described as a “coachman domestic”. He continued to work for the Lawley/Forbes-Adam family and in 1939 was described as a “Chauffeur”. The following photograph shows him with the car he drove:

Great Grandfather Francis Digweed

Francis and Violet continued to live in Escrick Park until their deaths in 1959 and 1971, respectively. The following photograph is of Francis and Violet’s grave in St Helen’s Churchyard, Escrick.

St Helen’s Churchyard, Escrick – Francis and Violet Digweed’s gravestone

I am interested in knowing more about the origins of the Digweed family on the Berkshire/Wiltshire/Hampshire borders. Do contact me if you have any further information which you are willing to share with me.

Note: the map used in this blog has been reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland under the following creative commons licence https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/ and sourced from the NLS maps site https://maps.nls.uk/.


1939 Register. https://www.ancestry.co.uk/  : accessed December 2021.

Births, baptisms, marriages, deaths and burials. https://www.ancestry.co.uk/  and https://findmypast.co.uk : accessed December 2021.

Census Records. https://www.ancestry.co.uk/  : accessed December 2021.

Ham. https://www.genuki.org.uk/big/eng/WIL/Ham : accessed December 2021.

Hampstead Norris (Hamstead Norreys). https://www.genuki.org.uk/big/eng/BRK/HampsteadNorris : accessed December 2021.

Hanks, Patrick et al. (2016.) The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 

Inkpen. https://www.genuki.org.uk/big/eng/BRK/Inkpen : accessed December 2021.

Lewis, Samuel ed. (1848) A Topological Directory of England. London: Lewis. https://www.british-history.ac.uk/topographical-dict/england : accessed June 2021.

OS Maps. https://maps.nls.uk/ : accessed December 2021.

Thatcham. https://www.genuki.org.uk/big/eng/BRK/Thatcham : accessed December 2021.

Discovering Digweeds and Tuttles in South East England

As part of my family research I have been following the Digweed family in my tree back in time. The earliest record I have for my seven times great grandparents, Thomas Digweed and Abigail Shepherd, is a record of their marriage on 10 (possibly 16) July 1653 in Thatcham, Berkshire. Over the summer I have been visiting some of the places the family lived in in Berkshire and nearby places in Wiltshire.


St Mary The Virgin, Thatcham

Thomas and Abigail had at least seven children: three boys and four girls. Finding their records has been challenging though as there are many and different spellings of Digweed. A couple of examples are: Digwidd and Diggweed. While some members of the family remained in Thatcham others moved to nearby villages in Berkshire.


All Saints, Ham

My five times great grandfather Charles Digweed (1703-1760) was born in Thatcham and died in Greenham. Charles and his wife Ann Chapman (born about 1717) had at least eight children: four boys and four girls.  Their grandson and my three times great grandfather, John Digweed (1791-1851), settled with his wife Rachel Hillear (1793-1851) in Ham in nearby Wiltshire. John and Rachel had at least eight children: seven boys and one girl and John was recorded as an agricultural labourer living in Ham in the 1851 census. Their son Thomas (1836-1910) was my two times great grandfather. He too was an agricultural labourer who seems to have moved around somewhat probably in order to find work. With his wife Mary Ann Tuttle (1837-1900) he had at least twelve children: six boys and six girls. One of their sons, Francis Edward Digweed (1873-1959), was my great grandfather.


Great Grandfather  Francis Edward Digweed

By the 1901 census Francis was married to my great grandmother, Violet Kate Richardson (1878-1971), and living near Skipton in Yorkshire when he gave his occupation as a coachman. By 1911 he was a domestic coachman to the Lawley family in Escrick, Yorkshire. As an aside, I was looking at the records of the family (Forbes Adam collection) at the Hull History Centre and came across a number of mentions in the Estate account books for the mid-1910s of payments to Digweed for “clipping the mare”. A later photograph of Francis, provided by a family member, shows him in his chauffeur outfit standing by the Lawley family car.

I do remember my great grandmother Kate and I am lucky to have some family photos provided by one of my relatives. Also, some of the photographs of churches in Berkshire have been taken by me. What I didn’t find in any of these churches’ graveyards were any memorial stones for members of the Digweed family, indicating perhaps that they largely remained as agricultural labourers over quite a long period of time.


St Michael and All Angels, Shalbourne

When I visited Shalbourne though what I did come across were members of the Tuttle family buried in the graveyard: Stephen Tuttle (1803-1876) and his half-brother John Tuttle (1805-1887). Stephen was my two times great grandmother, Mary Ann Tuttle’s (1837-1900), father.


2nd Afgham War memorial

There were also some members of the Tuttle family on two war memorials. The oldest memorial was a cross dedicated to three soldiers of the parish who were “Soldiers of the 66th Royal Berkshire who fell at the Battle of Maiwand, Afghanistan”. One of these soldiers was Lance Corporal George Tuttle (1847-1880), my first cousin four times removed, who died in Afghanistan during the second Afghan War.


G D Tuttle

The WWI memorial in Shalbourne churchyard also has two Tuttle men on it: T(homas) Tuttle (1888-1917) and G(eorge) D(avid) Tuttle (1889-1917). Both were privates in the Royal Berkshire Regiment and are my second cousins three times removed. G D Tuttle’s grave in Shalbourne churchyard is marked with a Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone.

No members of the Digweed family featured on any of the WWI memorials in the churchyards I visited indicating that they had largely moved away from the area by the start of WWI. It was interesting though to find members of the Tuttle family. Just also to say that my photographic skills are not great and all the photos on this blog post, bar the one of Francis Digweed, have been taken by me, so apologies for their quality. It has been interesting visiting parts of Berkshire which were unfamiliar to me despite the fact that I gained my first degree from Reading University.